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Thread: McGinn Draft Series

  1. #11
    Senior Member pdom's Avatar
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  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by pdom View Post


    No NFL draft in the last 25 years has had two top linebacker prospects as tall as Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds and Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch.

    Few drafts have had two better players from the Southeastern Conference at linebacker than Georgia’s Roquan Smith and Alabama’s Rashaan Evans, who dueled in the FBS championship game in January.

    As much as general managers would like to see a better supply of pass rushers and cover guys on their boards, at least all is not lost on the defensive end of this draft. If you want someone to play every snap and, at least in time, probably run your defense, there are four players answering that call.

    “Those four are better football players than these pass rushers after (Bradley) Chubb,” an executive in personnel for an NFL team said. “I don’t know what you’re getting out of those guys rushing the passer.”

    If the “Big Four” linebackers do go in the first round, it would be the first time since 1990 for four off-the-ball linebackers.

    Speed among the group is in abundance with 40-yard times ranging from Smith’s 4.53 to Evans’ 4.68 seconds.

    Intelligence isn’t an issue, either. Smith, Evans and Vander Esch each scored 24 on the Wonderlic test whereas Edmunds has 22.

    Edmunds, who won’t turn 20 until May 2, is one of the youngest players in the draft. The oldest of the “Big Four,” Vander Esch, turned 22 in February.

    Probably the greatest talent is Edmunds. He has been compared by scouts to Brian Urlacher, Anthony Barr and LaVar Arrington.

    Vander Esch, the other giant, outperformed Urlacher at the combine: vertical jump (39 inches to 34), broad jump (10-4 to 10-2), short shuttle (4.15 seconds to 4.30) and 3-cone (6.88 to 6.94). Urlacher bested Vander Esch in the 40 (4.62 to 4.65), the 60-yard shuttle (11.10 to 11.57), the bench press (27 reps to 20) and the Wonderlic (he had 28).

    At 6-4 for Edmunds and 6-4 for Vander Esch, they will cut quite a figure in the middle of some defense come September.

    In the last 25 drafts, the only off-the-ball linebackers selected in the first two rounds standing 6-4 or better were Benardrick McKinney (6-4, 247, 4.65) in 2015, Barr (6-4 , 251, 4.46) in 2014 and Quinton Caver (6-4, 227, 4.70) in 2001.

    Eight inside linebackers from 1993-’17 stood 6-3 and went in the first two rounds. That list includes Zach Cunningham (6-3 , 235, 4.67) in 2017, Kiko Alonso (6-3 , 236, 4.75) and Jamie Collins (6-3 , 250, 4.62) in 2013, Luke Kuechly (6-3 1/2, 243, 4.60) in 2012, Rolando McClain (6-3 , 259, 4.70) in 2010, Karlos Dansby (6-3 , 249, 4.66) in 2004, Urlacher (6-3 , 258, 4.62) in 2000 and Ted Johnson (6-3 , 238, 4.71) in 1995.

    Jack Lambert (6-4, 220) is the only inside linebacker in the Hall of Fame with that kind of height. Ray Nitschke and Dick Butkus were listed at 6-3.

    “We have never had a real tall linebacker,” one scout said in reference to Vander Esch. “But he runs good.”

    Four scouts talked about Smith (6-1, 234, 4.53) in the same breath as Ray Lewis, the all-time great for the Ravens who was 6-0 , 237 and ran 4.73 out of Miami when he went to Baltimore with the 26th pick in 1996.

    “He’s certainly got more attractive measurables than Ray had coming out, and similar production,” said an AFC personnel man who scouted Lewis. An NFC scout who was scouting at the time said Smith would rank as the better collegiate player.

    Lewis started 24 of 31 games for the Hurricanes, finishing with 388 tackles (18 for loss), six sacks and four interceptions.

    Smith started 25 of 40 games for the Bulldogs, finishing with 252 tackles (20 for loss), 6 sacks and no interceptions.

    “When I first watched his tape I said, ‘God, this kid’s Ray Lewis,’ within 10 plays,” another scout with seasoning said. “Roquan is the ultimate pro linebacker of the modern era.”

    Evans (6-2, 231, 4.68) isn’t as fast as Smith, and there are reservations about his capability to run a defense whereas in Smith’s case there are none. Yet, Evans tops Smith in a facet of play that has always separated linebackers.

    “He’s the most explosive linebacker in the draft,” said one personnel man. “C.J. Mosley wasn’t as violent as this kid. Rashaan can uncoil on people in tight spaces.”

    The dominance of the “Big Four” was reflected in the results of a poll in which 13 executives in personnel listed their top seven best linebackers. A first-place vote was worth 7 points, a second-place vote was worth 6 and so on.

    Edmunds edged Smith in points, 84-83, thanks in part to a 7-5 margin in first-place votes. Evans drew the other first.

    Also with double-digit point totals were Evans (65), Vander Esch (49), Texas’ Malik Jefferson (28), Brigham Young’s Fred Warner (12), South Carolina State’s Darius Leonard (11) and Ohio State’s Jerome Baker (10).

    Rounding out the votes were Memphis’ Genard Avery (nine), Iowa’s Josey Jewell (eight), Vanderbilt’s Oren Burks (two), Virginia’s Micah Kiser (one), Arizona State’s Christian Sam (one) and Ohio State’s Chris Worley (one).


    1. ROQUAN SMITH, Georgia (6-1, 234, 4.53, 1): Third-year junior. “Plays the game the right way,” one scout said. “Smart as hell. Plays his ass off. Fast. Space guy, just flies around. Real instinctive. Just little and kind of straight-line fast. Not as explosive as Ryan Shazier. Not a take-on type guy. In the modern game he’ll fit in well.” Another scout said he was better than Atlanta’s Deion Jones. “He’s probably more explosive than (Tremaine) Edmunds but can’t carry as much range,” he said. “He’s country. He is an articulate, smart, driven person.” Out of Montezuma, Ga. “He’s a ball-playing Jesse,” a third scout said. “He can run, he can hit, he can cover. He can run the defense. If you can live with him being 6-foot tall you’re going to have yourself a really good player. He’s got zone instincts and awareness. Only thing you don’t like about the kid is his height. Look at the size of tight ends and wide receivers, and he has to try and cover those guys?”

    2. TREMAINE EDMUNDS, Virginia Tech (6-4 , 251, 4.55, 1): Third-year junior, two-year starter. “I said he’s Brian Urlacher because of his size, speed and range,” said one scout. “Anthony Barr is a good comparison. He does anything you want. He can run, he can stack, he can use his arms, he’s got eyes and he’s a great person. A slam dunk.” His father, Ferrell, played tight end for the Dolphins and Seahawks from 1988-’94 and went to two Pro Bowls. Has the longest arms (34 inches) at the position. “You like the length and athletic ability and the speed,” a second scout said. “Just kind of raw. Just has to hone his game.” Finished with 226 tackles (35 for loss) and 10 sacks. Played inside in the Hokies’ 4-2 base defense. “He is easily the best athlete,” a third scout said. “He will run and he will hit. But I’ll tell you what. He has marginal instincts. But he’s so fast and so quick that he can recover. He makes a mistake instinctive-wise by taking a false step but he will get off the block and chase the guy down.” From Danville, Va.

    3. RASHAAN EVANS, Alabama (6-2, 231, 4.68, 1): Backed up Reuben Foster and others for three years before finally starting on the weak inside last year in the Crimson Tide’s 3-4 defense. “He’s in the C.J. Mosley class,” said one scout. “Not as fluid of an athlete in space but he’s more explosive as a tackler and more physical … when Bama beat Clemson for the national title (in January 2016) the key defensive player in that game was Rashaan Evans because he had to mirror Deshaun Watson. That was the real difference in that game.” Finished with 152 tackles (23 for loss) and 15 sacks. Coach Nick Saban used Evans often with his hand down outside on passing downs. “He can rush the passer (from end),” said another scout. “He is an elite interior pass rusher as a linebacker. He’s got elite suddenness and change of direction. He’s a twitchy guy. He plays like a guy who runs 4.50. They get trained so well and they’re so fast with their reactions. Physical practices every day. So they play super fast.” The nagging question on Evans is his ability to call and direct a defense. MLB Shaun Dion Hamilton was considered the brains of the Alabama defense. “I wouldn’t do it,” said one scout. “He just hasn’t had any experience at that. He could probably line up the guy next to him. Rashaan is Zack Brown (Redskins). A little more violent.” From Auburn, Ala.

    4. LEIGHTON VANDER ESCH, Boise State (6-4, 255, 4.63, 1-2): Walked on at Boise State after playing eight-man football at Salmon River High in Riggins, Idaho. He was one of 11 in his graduating class. “I thought you could put him outside and he might be able to take a tight end out of the game for you,” said one scout. “If you’ve got a guy like ‘Gronk’ (Rob Gronkowski) and the linebacker has to take him down the seam, this guy can do it. He could cover ‘Gronk’ because he’s big and strong, and he’s tough. I didn’t think he had inside instincts but this kid plays hard, is smart and will hit you. He’s not quick. Tad bit of a strider.” Redshirted in 2014, played special teams at 215 pounds in ’15 and backed up in ’16 before missing six games with a stinger that one team said remained a concern to its medical staff. Started in ’17 before declaring a year early. “One-year player,” said a second scout. “Had some medical issues. He’s got up side. He’ll have to work on his strength and his block take-on and shedding and some balance. But plays hard, makes a lot of plays, got great range. He can play in coverage and can play against the run.” Finished with 188 tackles (13 for loss) and five sacks. Added 16 pounds since mid-December. “He’s a different guy, a guy like Scott Fujita,” said a third scout. “He’d beat up a tight end. Not a great pass rusher but a good, solid football player. He made that New Orleans’ defense in the Super Bowl better. Early second round, late first.”

    5. MALIK JEFFERSON, Texas (6-2, 237, 4.55, 2): Five-star recruit, third-year junior and three-year starter at various positions. “Can play inside or outside and can rush the passer,” one scout said. “Excellent athletic ability and quickness. Good tackler. Around the ball. Fills and fits well. Does not let the blocker get much contact on him.” Not durable, missing games each of his three seasons. “He is everything you want athletically,” said a second scout. “But I thought the instincts were off and the production was off. He didn’t get to the plays he should. He’s what I call a clear-view linebacker. If there’s nobody blocking him, if the defensive line keeps everybody off and if it’s right there between the tackles he can hammer you. But go try and find the ball, I thought he was really lacking. He looks just like you draw guys up. ‘Oh, my God, you want a linebacker, that’s the guy you want.’” Finished with 233 tackles (25 for loss) and 12 sacks. “Stiff,” said a third scout. “Big and can run and can hit. He’s a little lacking in instincts, and he’s stiff.” From Mesquite, Texas.

    6. FRED WARNER, Brigham Young (6-3 , 235, 4.65, 2-3): Started 42 of 49 games over four seasons, basically remaining injury-free. “Great size and excellent measurables,” one scout said. “He’s right on the cusp of the top group. He needs to be more physical.” Posted 32 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test, best among the top 12 LBs. “Good kid,” said a second scout. “That (toughness) is the question on him. He’s more that rangy, run-and-chase, back-side player. He’s not that attack and shed, power, hit you in the mouth type guy.” Had 264 tackles (32 for loss) and 6 sacks. “I don’t know what to do with that guy,” a third scout said. “Played in space a lot … like a safety. He is not a good tackler but he can move. Looks good physically.” From San Marcos, Calif.

    7. DARIUS LEONARD, South Carolina State (6-2, 230, 4.73): Four-year starter on the weak side in a 4-2 defense. “He plays at South Carolina State so he’s got that going against him,” said one scout. “He’s got to be a little more physical but he certainly has speed and production.” Finished with 394 tackles (54 for loss), 22 sacks, eight forced fumbles, six interceptions and 13 passes defensed. All Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference defensive player of the year in 2016 and ’17. “He’s everything you want in a player,” a second scout said. “He’s a great person. Sees the ball.” From Lake View, S.C. “He’s tiny, the size of a safety,” said a third scout. “He played his butt off for them at that level. I’m not sure where he’s going to play in the league. He was like 215 (actually 213) coming into (the ’17 season).”

    8. JEROME BAKER, Ohio State (6-1, 231, 4.53, 3-4): Third-year junior and a two-year starter. “He’s an exceptional sub backer,” said one scout. “Fast and athletic. He can play man and zone. He has shown the ability to play the ball although he was inconsistent this year. He’s soft against the run. More of a jump-around guy. How much do you value your sub backer? How turned off are you by the finesse style of his game? He’s a legit 4.45. That’s what he plays. Kind of an oddball, too. He could go in the third round. It’s a passing league.” Led the Buckeyes in tackles in 2017 after finishing second in ’16. Had 158 tackles (17 for loss) and seven sacks. “Just a space guy,” a second scout said. “He wouldn’t take me on but, as a space guy and moving laterally, he’s good. I didn’t see him being physical at all.” From Cleveland.

    9. GENARD AVERY, Memphis (6-0 , 249, 4.60, 3-4): Most of his 34 starts over four seasons came inside before he was moved outside down the stretch in 2017. “James Harrison is his mold,” said one scout. “Stout, short, yoked-up. Looks like a fullback. Bowed-up dude. As a leverage bull rusher he can be a problem. I’m not playing him at ‘mike’ or ‘will’ or ‘sam.’ He missed too many gaps. He’s late seeing it develop. He can fly like a bat out of hell when he gets there but he might wreck the whole damn gap (structure). Might knock a few people down on the way. There’s some sleeper qualities. They didn’t let him rush the passer really until this year.” Finished with 233 tackles (45 for loss) and 21 sacks. “Off the ball he’s barely a free agent,” said a second scout. “He tested well but he has no instincts. They moved him to right end with his hand down because they didn’t want him to have to think anymore. The kid’s got edge speed. The Steelers have had some short outside backers.” From Grenada, Miss.

    10. JOSEY JEWELL, Iowa (6-1, 236, 4.82, 3-4): Fifth-year senior started the last 43 games of his career. “He makes every tackle,” said one scout. “He don’t test good but he does everything else good. Put the film on. He makes every (bleep) tackle. He may not be as good a pro player but he was a better college player than (Anthony) Hitchens.” Hitchens preceded Jewell on the inside of the Hawkeyes’ defense. Jewell was Big Ten defensive player of the year in 2017. “He’s small, he’s slow,” said a second scout. “He’s like a lot of those guys that come out of Iowa. Tough little guy.” Finished with 437 tackles (28 for loss), 10 sacks, six interceptions and a phenomenal 32 passes defensed. “Always in the right places in zone,” said a third scout. “Never saw him in man. He’s a chase guy, not a take-on guy. He’s a block catcher who gets engulfed by offensive linemen at times. If you have big defensive tackles that can keep people off him the guy’s a good player. The more you watch him the less you like him.” From Decorah, Iowa.

    11. CHRISTIAN SAM, Arizona State (6-1, 240, 4.76, 4): Third-year junior received a medical redshirt after suffering a season-ending foot injury in the 2016 opener. “He’s a box guy who is strong and a good tackler,” one scout said. “He is tight and struggled some in space.” His 28 reps on the bench press led the position. “Nigerian kid,” said a second scout. “Can run a defense and make adjustments. Sincere and trustworthy. You won’t ever have any problems with this kid.” Finished with 228 tackles (17 for loss) and seven sacks in 39 games (26 starts). From Allen, Texas.

    12. OREN BURKS, Vanderbilt (6-3, 232, 4.62, 4): Started 19 games at free safety in 2014-’15 before shifting to ILB in a 3-4 defense the past two years. “Smart as a whip,” said one scout. “There’s no doubt this guy will play. What a great kid. This is the type of kid you search for.” Finished with 237 tackles (15 1/2 for loss), 4 sacks, five interceptions and 26 passes defensed. Tied for the positional lead in the vertical jump (39 ) and led the broad jump (10-10). “Good instincts against the run,” a second scout said. “Can roam, match up and blitz on third down. Tough.” Wonderlic of 24. From Fairfax Station, Va.

    13. MICAH KISER, Virginia (6-0 , 237, 4.68, 4-5): Three-year starter inside, including 2015 in a 4-3 and 2016-’17 in a 3-4. “Really instinctive,” one scout said. “He short. He’s slow, if you want to say that. Not really that explosive. But he’s got a nose for the ball. They love him at UVA. The floor is being an excellent backup. He’s a good glue guy for a team.” Won the so-called academic Heisman Trophy (Campbell Trophy). Wonderlic of 26. “Two-down player,” a second scout said. “He takes people on and can shed blockers and is a good tackler, but he struggles in space.” Led the Atlantic Coast Conference in tackles three years in a row. Added a third scout: “I don’t think he’s any good.” From Baltimore.

    14. JOEL IYIEGBUNIWE, Western Kentucky (6-1 , 230, 4.60, 4-5): Fourth-year junior started outside in 2016 and inside in ’17. “Just call him ‘Iggy’ – that’s what everybody there calls him,” one scout said. “Like to have him. Like his range, his cover skills. At worst, you’re getting a guy that can be a sub linebacker and quality backup/special-teams player. He’s got a chance to be a starter. Great kid.” Had rash of major injuries from 2012-’14. “Boundary linebacker who moved to 7-technique in some passing situations,” a second scout said. “Quick to the flat, good zone drops. Seems to have good feel for coverage. Has some pass-rush ability. Needs to be more physical.” Finished with 200 tackles (22 for loss) and 6 sacks. From Bowling Green, Ky.

    15. JACK CICHY, Wisconsin (6-2, 236, no 40, 4-5): Decided not to apply for a sixth season (medical hardship) after suffering season-ending torn ACL in August. Also missed half of 2016 with a torn pectoral. Worked out at Badgers pro day March 14 but didn’t run the 40. “It’s a shame because I don’t know what he is,” said one scout. “He hasn’t played in a year and a half. He didn’t look 100% in the workout. I don’t know what you’re getting. If you’re getting the player he was, then he’s certainly a worthwhile guy. So that will be held against him a little bit.” Finished with 121 tackles (15 for loss) and 6 sacks. Improved from 31 to a LB-leading 36 on the Wonderlic. “Very, very instinctive,” said a second scout. “Smart player with ability. He’ll play for somebody because he’s so smart. He’s going to have to be protected because he doesn’t take people on. Good tackler.” From Somerset, Wis., but attended high school in the Twin Cities.

    OTHERS: Kenny Young, UCLA; Dorian O’Daniel, Clemson; Tegray Scales, Indiana; Chris Worley, Ohio State; Mike McCray, Michigan; Skai Moore, South Carolina; Azeem Victor, Washington; Matthew Thomas, Florida State; Nick DeLuca, North Dakota State; Tre Williams, Auburn; Shaun Dion Hamilton, Alabama; Brian Jones, Saginaw Valley State; Keishawn Bierria, Washington.



    Dorian O’Daniel, Clemson: Two-year starter on the strong side for the Tigers’ powerhouse defenses. O’Daniel (6-0 , 223, 4.60) looks like a safety but has never played in the secondary. A terrific athlete, he led LBs in the short shuttle (4.07) and the 3-cone (6.64). “He’s a guy we’d love to have on teams,” a NFL special teams coach said. “All the good ones are ‘will’ linebackers.”


    Azeem Victor, Washington: Victor (6-2, 239, 4.71) started at MLB from 2015 until October 2017 when he was benched. In mid-November, he was suspended indefinitely after being pulled over for a DUI, the latest in a series of off-field infractions. “When he was on his game and in shape in 2016 he was looking like a second-round pick,” one scout said. “Then this year you look at him as a free agent the way he played. He’ll be like Vontaze Burfict if he doesn’t get his stuff together.”


    Tom Bettis, LB, Purdue: First-round draft choice (fifth overall) in 1955. Played 84 games from 1955-’61, starting for most of his career before finally being replaced by Ray Nitschke. Traded to Pittsburgh in July 1962, he played one year there and the ’63 season in Chicago before embarking on a 29-year career as an NFL assistant coach. He died in February 2015.


    NFL executive in personnel: “It’s human nature. I think all of us grade helmets and grade systems.”

  3. #13
    Senior Member lostxn's Avatar
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    Apr 2013
    Makes me feel better about Evans.

  4. #14
    Senior Member Simpleton's Avatar
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    Apr 2013
    Evans is a good prospect, would really juice up our blitzes, although I do worry that he's a bit mechanical and not great in man coverage, although how often is he going to be manned up in reality?

    He's towards the back end of the group I like at 19 but I'd be fine with the pick.

  5. #15
    Senior Member GShock's Avatar
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    Apr 2013

    It was inevitable. Some people just are sick and tired of Alabama football.

    Winning five national championships in the last nine seasons and at an .868 clip (132-20) overall under coach Nick Saban has placed the Crimson Tide front and center when it comes to the NFL draft, too.

    The position that Saban takes great pride in continuing to coach on a daily basis, the defensive backfield, could have five of its members drafted this week.

    That’s F-I-V-E from one secondary. Roll Tide, indeed.

    Minkah Fitzpatrick, the star of that group, looked like a top-10 if not top-5 pick not that many weeks ago. With the draft one day away, Fitzpatrick could be one of the biggest droppers of the first round.

    “I don’t get the whole fascination with this guy,” an executive in personnel said. “Solid player, not an elite player. He’s a tweener. He’s a heady guy in their system. He’s not an elite talent.”

    Fitzpatrick (6-0, 204) started 17 games as a nickel back, 14 games as a strong safety and seven games as a cornerback. Saban has praised him profusely for what his all-around skills can bring in today’s NFL. Some personnel people aren’t buying in.

    “He’s a good football player but there’s no up side to be great,” said one personnel director. “He’s solid, soothing and solid. Welcome to Alabama football. There’s a lot of hype … a lot of hype.

    “He’s not better than Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. I’m just telling you. I’ll bet you a dollar to a doorknob that he can’t go cover a wideout outside. No way he could play corner. As a tackler, well, he gets you down.”

    In December, Fitzpatrick was named the winner of the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s most outstanding defensive back. The previous 11 recipients averaged 5.6 interceptions in their season of their triumph. Fitzpatrick made one in 2017.

    “What the (bleep) is all the hype with this guy?” another personnel director said. “He’s a good, smart player but he’s probably not good enough to be a corner and he’s not as big and as physical as you want for safety.

    “These Alabama guys get so overblown. I don’t know if he drops. Some people get enamored with these Alabama guys.”

    Fitzpatrick gained eight first-place votes as the best safety in the draft from a group of 13 personnel men that were surveyed in the last month. The other five firsts went to Derwin James of Florida State.

    “James plays football the way a safety is supposed to play it,” said one decision-maker. “He has better film than Fitzpatrick. He’s the better player. I wouldn’t be shocked if he goes ahead of Minkah.”

    One of the executives that voted for Fitzpatrick went so far as to say that in 15 years he’ll be in the same distinguished category as Rod Woodson and Charles Woodson, two other players that started their careers at cornerback before moving to safety in their 30s.

    “If you’re going to take him high you’ve got to draft him as a corner and slide him inside as a slot,” the scout said. “You’re taking away from his strength if you put him at safety. That (cornerback) is where he can help you the most.

    “He can blitz. He can run support. He can cover in the slot. He can coordinate the whole defense. He’s a ball magnet, like a coach on the field.”

    In the poll, scouts ranked their top five safeties and top five cornerbacks. A first-place vote was worth 5 points, a second was worth 4 points and so on.

    Fitzpatrick edged James in points, 60-57. Following, in order, were Alabama’s Ronnie Harrison (27), Stanford’s Justin Reid (20), Wake Forest’s Jessie Bates (14), Texas A&M’s Armani Watts (seven), Penn State’s Marcus Allen (three), Virginia Tech’s Terrell Edmunds (three), Texas’ DeShon Elliott (two), Penn State’s Troy Apke (one) and Tennessee’s Rashaan Gaulden (one).

    At cornerback, Ohio State’s Denzel Ward captured 12 of the 13 first-place votes, and Central Florida’s Mike Hughes received the other.

    The first five were Ward (63 points), Hughes (39), Louisville’s Jaire Alexander (29), Iowa’s Josh Jackson (27) and Colorado’s Isaiah Oliver (19).

    Other votes went to Wisconsin’s Nick Nelson (seven), Louisiana State’s Donte Jackson (five), Auburn’s Carlton Davis (four), Florida’s Duke Dawson (one) and North Carolina’s M.J. Stewart (one).

    “It’s decent,” one executive said of the cornerback class. “It’s deeper in like the third and fourth rounds than early on.

    “It doesn’t have a Champ Bailey in it. There’s a drop-off from Ward to the rest.”

    Saban, who took over in 2007, has watched 10 drafts of Crimson Tide players that he has coached. Alabama has had a defensive back drafted every year except 2008 and 2011. In all, 14 of his defensive backs – seven cornerbacks, seven safeties – have been drafted, including 10 in the top three rounds.

    His first-round cornerbacks were Kareem Jackson (20) in 2010, Dre Kirkpatrick (17) in 2012, Dee Milliner (nine) in 2013 and Marlon Humphrey (16) in 2017.

    His first-round safeties were Mark Barron (seven) in 2012 and Clinton-Dix (21) in 2014.

    Two of the 14 players, Giants safety Landon Collins (second round, 2015) and Clinton-Dix, have been voted to a Pro Bowl. The biggest bust was Milliner.

    The pipeline in the secondary from Tuscaloosa to the pros certainly is impressive, but one personnel man indicated the Crimson Tide’s usually effective pass rush deserves some of the credit.

    “We were just watching that,” the scout said early in the week. “These Alabama guys don’t have to cover very long.”

    Fitzpatrick, according to Sports Illustrated, was referred to as “Coach Saban’s son” by teammates. He scored 30 on the Wonderlic intelligence test, abstains from alcohol and drugs and is known for his commitment to preparation.

    “He’s a good person,” said one personnel head. “But he’s not a fire and brimstone guy.”

    If Fitzpatrick’s career is successful, it might resemble those of other first-round players that started early at cornerback before settling at safety. Antrel Rolle (6-0 , 197, 4.61) from the 2005 draft, Malcolm Jenkins (5-10, 195, 4.40) from 2008 and Devin McCourty (5-10 , 193, 4.42) from 2010 aren’t all-timers but each made multiple Pro Bowls.

    Can Fitzpatrick become a great player?

    “If used correctly,” said another decision-maker. “I don’t think he’s a corner because he’s not great at the top of breaks. He’s instinctive. He’s got a great football mind. I think he’s got ball skills.

    “At worst, he’ll be good to very good. Whether he becomes Ed Reed (5-11, 205, 4.51), I’m not willing to say that.”



    1. DENZEL WARD, Ohio State (5-11, 187, 4.31, 1): Played special teams as a true freshman in 2015, rotated with Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley in ’16 and started 13 games in ’17 before declaring a year early. “The more I watch him the more I grow to appreciate him,” said one scout. “There are times he is (great) at the ball, and there are times he is not. He will turn and track the ball. He’s got great, great feet and great change of direction. Willing tackler.” Led all CBs in the broad jump (11-4) to go with a 39-inch vertical jump and score of 21 on the Wonderlic intelligence test. “He’s sticky in coverage,” said a second scout. “Loose hips. Good route anticipation. Can read routes. He’s just the whole package. He’ll come up and tackle. He’s a definite Day 1 starter. It’s really up to him whether he becomes a No. 1 corner or a No. 2.” Finished with 67 tackles, two interceptions and 26 passes broken up. “He’s much better than the guy the Raiders drafted (Conley, first round) last year,” said a third scout. “He’s so quick. Only thing against him is his height. He had some red-zone problems against (Indiana’s Simmie) Cobbs because of the height thing.” From Macedonia, Ohio.

    2. MIKE HUGHES, Central Florida (5-10, 190, 4.49, 1): Played sparingly as a freshman at North Carolina, transferred to a junior college as a sophomore and started for unbeaten UCF as a junior before declaring early. “Just as a football player, if he was taller you’d be talking about him as the No. 1 (cornerback),” said one scout. “He’s twitchy, quick, fast enough. He’ll come up and hit you. I don’t see the lack of length with Denzel as I do with this kid. I saw bigger receivers making plays over the top of him. He wasn’t getting beat deep … (but) on 50-50 situations down the field he was getting bodied up.” Finished with 60 tackles, four picks and 18 PBUs. “Not as fluid as (Jaire) Alexander but more physical,” said a second scout. “He can press. Little reckless. Will miss some tackles because of it. He’s solid. You wish he were bigger.” Was accused of sexual assault during his year at North Carolina but no criminal charges were filed. “It’s going to be a company call, an ownership call, probably,” said a third scout. “He’s been cleared.” Also was suspended for two games in 2015 and did 100 hours of community service on a misdemeanor assault charge after he got into a fight at a fraternity house. From New Bern, N.C.

    3. JAIRE ALEXANDER, Louisville (5-10, 195, 4.38, 1-2): Third-year junior. “Really like him,” said one scout. “He has more plays on the ball than Ward. Little more of a gambler than Ward.” Converted from WR to CB in 2015, had a five-interception season in ’16 and played just six games in ’17 because of a sprained knee and broken hand. Can he start outside? “Eventually,” a second scout replied. “He has enough athletic skill and speed. Pretty good instincts and arm length (31 1/8). He can really run. He can cover. Really raw with his technique. Wasn’t as good in ’17 as he was in ’16 due to injury. Plays with a little swagger. Not the most physical guy in the world.” Finished with 71 tackles, seven picks and 22 PBUs. “The 2017 tape looks really bad,” a third scout said. “If you go back to when he was healthy he’s a first-round talent. I don’t know if a team will take him in the first but he’s going to be good.” From Charlotte.

    4. JOSH JACKSON, Iowa (6-0 , 192, 4.54, 1-2): Came out of nowhere as a first-year starter in 2017. Led FBS in interceptions (eight) and PBUs (26) to become Big Ten defensive back of the year and earn consensus All-America honors. “What a player,” one scout said. “He didn’t run very good but I’m going to tell you, he can play. He’s got vision, instincts and hands like a wide receiver, which he was at one time. No wasted steps; plants and drives on the ball … if you’re going to line him up like the old Oakland Raiders, he’s not that guy.” Played mostly zone coverage for the Hawkeyes, then ran disappointing times at the combine and pro day. “Ridiculous ball skills to get interceptions,” a second scout said. “Some of the best I’ve ever seen. The concern is scheme fit. He probably would be better in a zone-heavy scheme where he can play off and just do the quarterback and can utilize his route awareness. As opposed to him lining up in press and having to deal with some of those burners on the edge.” Started just one of 26 games from 2015-’16 before declaring a year early. “Average run support,” a third scout said. “He’s a low tackler and doesn’t wrap up. I didn’t see a burst. They played a lot of zone and he used a bail technique. If he went to Tampa in the old days the guy would be fantastic. I don’t see a guy playing man.” From Corinth, Texas.

    5. ISAIAH OLIVER, Colorado (6-0 , 197, 4.51, 1-2): Third-year junior, one-year starter. “He’s got a lot of skills,” said one scout. “Very athletic. Good length (33 arms were the longest at the position). Really good in press. Off (coverage), he needs a lot of work. Not very strong. He might go in the first.” Elite track athlete in high school at Goodyear, Ariz., earning all-state honors in the decathlon. “He’s better playing the deep ball because he does have makeup speed and the ability to track the ball,” said a second scout. “Average instincts and inconsistent reaction to short and intermediate routes. Just average physicality in run support and as a tackler.” Finished with 71 tackles, three picks and 35 PBUs. “He won’t hit anybody but, boy, he’s got really good cover skills,” said a third scout. “He’s got to cover an outside guy. He can’t cover those inside slot kids.”

    6. DONTE JACKSON, Louisiana State (5-10 , 176, 4.31, 2): Third-year junior started 24 of 37 games. “He’ll be a real good nickel,” one scout said. “He can run with any of them. Best thing that could happen to him is playing against Antonio Brown early and him getting the dog beat out of him. Cocky as hell, which you want your corners to be. Not a bad kid. From a maturity standpoint, he needs somebody to embarrass him early. Doesn’t play with much technique because he’s so much more talented than the guys he’s playing.” Tied Ward for the fastest 40. “Reminded me of Philip Buchanan,” a second scout said. “He’s got that size and quickness. If he had size he’d be a top-5 pick. He is really good. Excellent one-on-one cover ability. Has problems against tall receivers.” Just seven reps on the bench. Arms were 29 1/2. “He’s not one of those trackmen with a track mentality,” a third scout said. “If they feel a bit of a twinge they don’t run or practice. No, this kid plays. The problem is, he gets run over a couple times by big backs or big linemen kicking out, I tell you, it just takes its toll on you. If you’re going to invest a high pick on him he might not be there by the end of the year.” Finished with 114 tackles, four picks and 24 PBUs. From Metairie, La.

    7. CARLTON DAVIS, Auburn (6-1, 205, 4.51, 2): Third-year junior with 32 starts in 38 games. “He’ll be a solid press corner, not great,” one scout said. “He’s got that length (32 arms). It wouldn’t shock me if he ended up being a Pro Bowl corner like Nnamdi Asomugha. He’s got some of the same issues where he just doesn’t have loose hips and he’s not explosive in transition. He can (harass) you at the line. His biggest issue will be confidence. If he’s playing with confidence he’s a good player. If he gets beat a couple times he’ll lose. Mid-second round.” Finished with 138 tackles, four picks and 33 PBUs. Ran a disappointing time at the combine but was better at pro day. “He’s overrated,” a second scout said. “He’s one of those bigger, longer, stiffer type corners. You want to get him in space and go after him. I don’t think he can move.” From Miami.

    8. NICK NELSON, Wisconsin (5-10 , 199, 4.49, 2-3): Started 21 games at Hawaii in 2014-’15 before transferring to UW after Hawaii coach Norm Chow was fired with a record of 10-36 in four seasons. Sat out 2016 before starting 14 games in ’17 and declaring a year early. Had 42 PBUs and not one interception. “You’ve got to question his hands,” one scout said. “Not a great finisher. He’s got short arms (30 ). He’s a little stiff in and out but he’s a pretty good athlete for his size. He can press or play off. Probably better in man. Still a little slow to match in zone. There’s something missing when you have that many PBUs and no interceptions.” Led FBS with a Badger-record 21 PBUs in ’17. Suffered a torn meniscus during a private workout with the Lions earlier in the month and underwent knee surgery last week. “He’s gone down the board,” said a second scout. “Not way down but he’s down enough. He gets discounted.” From Suitland, Md. Wonderlic of 26.

    9. DUKE DAWSON, Florida (5-10 , 196, 4.50, 3): Playing sparingly for two years, served as nickel back in ’16 and started in ’17. “He’s similar to Jaire Alexander, just not quite as good,” one scout said. “He can play inside or outside. Got good feet and speed and awareness. Good, solid overall player. Not an elite guy.” Finished with 82 tackles, six picks and 23 PBUs. “He ran 4.45 but he doesn’t play to it,” a second scout said. “Competitive nickel. He’s fairly tough. He’s had a history of concussions which may hurt him.” From Cross City, Fla. Added a third scout: “Love him. He’ll be a nickel corner and get on the field right away and play.”

    10. M.J. STEWART, North Carolina (5-11, 198, 4.53, 3-4): Played extensively as a freshman and then started for three years. “He’s excellent,” said one scout. “Just doesn’t have the blazing speed that you want. It wouldn’t surprise me if he played safety. He’s certainly tough enough to do it. Having said that, he’s pretty good around the ball now.” Built like a RB, which he was with a pair of 1,000-yard seasons in Arlington, Va. “He’s a thicker kid but he’s not stiff,” said a second scout. “Didn’t test as well as I thought he should have tested.” Wonderlic of 27 was the highest of the top 10 corners. Suspended for two game with Mike Hughes for the 2015 fight at the frat house.

    OTHERS: Anthony Averett, Alabama; Holton Hill, Texas; Tarvarus McFadden, Louisiana State; D.J. Reed, Kansas State; Arrion Springs, Oregon; Isaac Yiadom, Boston College; Tony Brown, Alabama; Darius Phillips, Western Michigan; Kevin Toliver, Louisiana State; DaVontae Harris, Illinois State; Quenton Meeks, Stanford; Parry Nickerson, Tulane;
    Taron Johnson, Weber State; Levi Wallace, Alabama; Danny Johnson, Southern; Greg Stroman, Virginia Tech; Brandon Facyson, Virginia Tech; Andre Chachere, San Jose State; Grant Haley, Penn State; Tremon Smith, Central Arkansas.


    1. DERWIN JAMES, Florida State (6-2, 216, 4.44, 1): Third-year junior with a vertical jump of 40 and a broad jump of 11-0. Arms were 33. “He’s not a master of all trades but he’s pretty damn good at everything,” one scout said. “Everyone used to want one safety to be a hammer. Now everyone wants cover guys. That’s why I think he’s going to move up and be more of a cover guy from the linebacker position or a close-up safety. You can put him out and have him cover a big wide receiver or a tight end whether they can run or not. But he can’t cover those quick, shifty slot guys. He’s a little bit leggy.” Five-star recruit from Haines City, Fla. Started eight games at SS in 2015 before blowing out his knee in Game 2 of ’16. Returned as the FS in ’17, starting 12 games. “He wasn’t playing 100% this year,” a second scout said. “He’s a true interchangeable safety. He can play on the hash and cover ground. Yet he can come down to the slot and cover. He’s what you want. He’s a stud.” Finished with 186 tackles (15 for loss), three picks and 19 PBUs. “He was kind of disappointing,” a third scout said. “You’re basing it on what he did as a freshman. An ACL takes a full year to come back.” Wonderlic of 15. “He’s living off his rep,” a fourth scout said. “Just kind of floats around. How he looks is what gets him by. You won’t see a better looking guy physically but he just doesn’t make a lot of plays or factor a lot. Lot of hype. You’re banking on that he’ll look better (next year).”

    2. MINKAH FITZPATRICK, Alabama (6-0, 204, 4.48, 1): Possibly coach Nick Saban’s favorite player in his Alabama tenure. Saban told Sports Illustrated that Fitzpatrick was the “prototype” of a modern college defensive back. “Reminds me of Eric Berry from an interview and character standpoint,” one scout said. “He can be a great safety. He’s got better coverage ability than Eric Berry. I don’t see him as good as Ronnie Lott … for all the hype he gets he’s very down to earth. He has played all the DB positions. That hurt him in a sense. If you can concentrate on one position you can be great at it.” Third-year junior immediately learned the defense. Started 38 of 42 games, finishing with 171 tackles (16 for loss), nine picks, four touchdowns and 35 PBUs. “He’s a vocal guy but he’s not leader-like,” said a second scout. “He’s not the juice man, I guess you (could) say. He’ll have some trouble with more sudden guys now and then. You saw that with Christian Kirk in the (Texas) A&M game. As a pure outside corner, you’re hoping for more than you’re actually getting. He isn’t an elite athlete and he doesn’t have elite dimensions. Minkah’s kind of a tweener.” Average workout numbers and shortest arms (31 ) of the top five safeties. “I don’t see the big-time, play-making talent,” a third scout said. “Not as good as Landon Collins or (Ha Ha) Clinton-Dix. Ha Ha was a much more impactful player than this guy. He’s one of those who gets a lot of praise for playing a lot of positions but he’s not a physical guy if he played safety and he’s not really a cover guy at corner.” From Old Bridge, N.J.

    3. RONNIE HARRISON, Alabama (6-2, 215, 4.64, 2): Declared a year early after starting 30 of 44 games in three seasons. “He is a jawbreaker tackler compared to Minkah,” one scout said. “Eddie Jackson did all the mental work (in 2016) and Minkah did it all this year. He’ll drop down as the dime guy and cover tight ends and slot receivers. He’s got some athletic ability. He didn’t run well.” Longest arms of any safety (33 3/8). Wonderlic of 25. “Prototypical strong safety,” a second scout said. “He can be a violent striker but he’s more of an engulfing tackler. He’s a big presence in the alley. He’s tough to get around. He’s got a little better coverage ability than you think. He won’t have a problem covering tight ends unless his eye discipline gets bad. Same qualities as Kam (Chancellor) but a better coverage player. Kam couldn’t cover anybody.” Finished with 177 tackles (seven for loss), seven interceptions and 24 PBUs. “No, he’s not smart,” a third scout said. “Everybody tries to build him up as the guy but he’s not the guy.” From Tallahassee, Fla.

    4. JUSTIN REID, Stanford (6-0 , 207, 4.40, 2-3): Third-year junior, two-year starter at FS. “If he can put it together this guy could be really good,” one scout said. “He’d be a cover safety who could play man. He’s not there yet. Little arrogance about him. Will he fit?” Highest Wonderlic (31) of the safeties. “He ran 4.4 flat but he doesn’t play that way,” a second scout said. “Plays the run well but I never saw that kind of burst out of the kid.” Finished with 179 tackles (10 for loss), six picks and 20 PBUs. “Struggles in space,” a third scout said. “People just kept running by him and throwing at him and beating him in one game. He’s a box-area type.” From Prairieville, La. His brother, Eric, played at LSU and started at safety for San Francisco from 2013-’17. “He’s not an intuitive player,” a fourth scout said. “Physically, he has all the gifts. He has no instinctive feel for playing the position.”

    5. JESSIE BATES, Wake Forest (6-1, 199, 4.51, 3): Bypassed his last two seasons of eligibility after redshirting in 2015 and starting 20 games in 2016-’17. “Physical,” said one scout. “Square, strong tackler. He’s like your prototypical strong safety. He’s pretty good.” Minimally recruited out of Fort Wayne, Ind. “Don’t see burst,” a second scout said. “Adequate aggressiveness. Tight straight-line guy. He will tackle.” Finished with 179 tackles (9 for loss), six picks and 15 PBUs.

    6. ARMANI WATTS, Texas A&M (5-10 , 208, 4.64, 3-4): Four-year starter at both FS and SS. “I really liked him last year (2016),” said one scout. “I had him in the third round and now I’ve got him in the sixth. He did not have a good season. He can’t run. He was extremely physical last year but he wasn’t this year. Now you end up with a guy that’s 5-10 and runs 4.65.” Had 10 interceptions and six forced fumbles in 48 games (42 starts). Made 327 tackles (24 for loss) and 29 PBUs. “Tough and instinctive,” another scout said. “Good athlete. Just not real big or fast.” From Forney, Texas.

    7. TERRELL EDMUNDS, Virginia Tech (6-0 , 218, 4.45, 3-4): Hails from an athletic family in Danville, Va. Father, Ferrell, was an NFL TE; older brother, Trey, signed as a free-agent RB with the Saints, and younger brother, Tremaine, will be a first-round pick as a LB. “He’s a physical freak but he’s got some limitations, too,” one scout said. “He’s not his brother. He hits but he doesn’t have fluidity in his hips. He’s not a cover guy.” Besides cranking out a spectacular 40 at 218 pounds he led safeties in the vertical jump (41 ) and broad jump (11-2). His hands (10 ) were the largest, too. “Not a great space player,” said a second scout. “He can run but he doesn’t play to the speed. Probably best downhill in the box. Doesn’t have great eyes or anticipation.” Finished with 182 tackles (6 for loss) in 31 starts, including eight as a CB. Also had six picks and 20 PBUs. Underwent shoulder surgery and missed the last three games of ’17. “That’s why I was shocked he came out,” a third scout said. “Best as a two-deep safety. He can’t cover.” Wonderlic of 27.

    8. MARCUS ALLEN, Penn State (6-2, 212, 4.65, 4): Four-year starter. “He’s a box guy,” said one scout. “A really tough guy. Has problems in space. He can’t run but he hits people. Late rounds. He can’t play now.” Finished as the fifth leading tackler in Nittany Lions’ annals with 321 (17 for loss). Just one pick and 12 PBUs. “He’s almost like a glorified linebacker,” said another scout. “He’s a big tone-setter that’s limited in coverage.” From Upper Marlboro, Md.

    9. RASHAAN GAULDEN, Tennessee (6-1, 194, 4.58, 4): Emotional, heavily-penalized third-year junior. “He just didn’t run as well as we would have liked,” one scout said. Used almost strictly as a nickel back in two seasons as a regular. “He doesn’t have that kind of quickness,” another scout said. “He’s a flexible, fluid athlete. His speed was OK but he doesn’t have corner feet. You look at him, he’s skinny but a pretty good run defender. You can make him a free safety. He doesn’t exactly have the ideal range but he’s got enough. Or you could make him a press corner because he’s big and has long arms and he could be disruptive at the line of scrimmage. Kind of a (bleep) but nothing criminal. Jack of all trades, master of none.” Finished with 140 tackles (9 for loss), one pick and 10 PBUs. From Spring Hill, Tenn.

    10. KYZIR WHITE, West Virginia (6-2, 219, 4.69, 4-5): Followed older brothers Kevin (Bears’ first-round draft choice in 2015) and Ka’Raun (WR in this draft) from Lackawanna Junior College to Morgantown. Started two seasons for the Mountaineers as a combination safety-LB. Two scouts had White rated among their top three safeties before he ran horribly at pro day. “He’ll end up being a linebacker,” one said. “I like the football player but I can’t get out of my mind that he ran 4.70. Which you don’t see on film. This kid played fast. He’s a heat-seeking missile. When this guy hits you the whole world knows it. It’s not like he’s stiff in coverage. At worst, he is a sub linebacker and your third safety.” Finished with 152 tackles (14 for loss), three picks and 12 PBUs. “The brother ran (well),” said a second scout. “He was my second best safety. Talk about a guy who hits.” From Macungie, Pa.

    OTHERS: Troy Apke, Penn State; DeShon Elliott, Texas; Tray Matthews, Auburn; Dane Cruikshank, Arizona; Godwin Igwebuike, Northwestern; Tracy Walker, Louisiana-Lafayette; Natrell Jamerson, Wisconsin; Jordan Whitehead, Pittsburgh; Quin Blanding, Virginia; Joshua Kalu, Nebraska; Siran Neal, Jacksonville State; Trayvon Henderson, Hawaii.



    Arrion Springs, CB, Oregon: Three-year starter for the Ducks but didn’t merit an invitation to the combine or any of the all-star games. Springs (5-10 , 208, 4.45) had a top-notch pro day. He finished fourth in the Ducks’ record book with 44 passes broken up. Wonderlic of 20. “I don’t see him being a perimeter starter,” one scout said. “I could see him playing a lot in the slot.”


    Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State: At 6-2 and 203, McFadden has the size every team is seeking. A third-year junior, he started 26 games the past two years. In 2016, he finished second in FBS with eight interceptions. This year, he didn’t pick any and followed it with a slow 40 (4.62).


    Scott McGarrahan, S, New Mexico: Sixth-round draft choice in 1998. McGarrahan (6-1, 192, 4.56) was active for almost every game from 1998-’00 because of his special-teams zeal. He was released at the end of training camp in ’01 but went on to play for the Dolphins, Titans, Chargers and Lions from 2001-’05. Green Bay reacquired McGarrahan in a trade with Miami in late August 2003 for a conditional seventh-round pick. The deal was voided when the Packers cut him six days later.


    NFC personnel man: “Two places you can’t have confidence and personality issues: corner and quarterback. If you lose confidence at corner and go in the tank, then you can’t cover anybody.”

  6. #16
    Senior Member Cowboysrock55's Avatar
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    Apr 2013
    Quote Originally Posted by Simpleton View Post
    Evans is a good prospect, would really juice up our blitzes, although I do worry that he's a bit mechanical and not great in man coverage, although how often is he going to be manned up in reality?

    He's towards the back end of the group I like at 19 but I'd be fine with the pick.
    Yeah and maybe he would get better in coverage. From everything I've seen he was lost in coverage. But they also blitzed him a shit ton on passing situations. So part of it just may be that he doesn't have the reps in coverage. Saban knew what a good blitzer Evans is and didn't really waste him in coverage. Unfortunately in our 4-3 defense we don't often blitz our LBers especially with all the nickle coverage we run.

  7. #17
    Senior Member Genghis Khan's Avatar
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    Apr 2013
    So our first round pick is Scott Fujita?

  8. #18
    Senior Member Simpleton's Avatar
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    Apr 2013
    Quote Originally Posted by Genghis Khan View Post
    So our first round pick is Scott Fujita?

    Not even close. Fujita is probably just the first 6-5 white LB he could come up with.

  9. #19
    Senior Member Genghis Khan's Avatar
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    Apr 2013
    Quote Originally Posted by Simpleton View Post
    Not even close. Fujita is probably just the first 6-5 white LB he could come up with.
    Yeah I don't agree either, funny comparison though.

  10. #20
    Senior Member Rev's Avatar
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    Apr 2013
    Its like Beetlejuice. If you say that name one more time then Nors is going to show up.
    #Fire Garrett

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